Vinaigrette is another Mother Sauce made of a simple blend of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper (usually 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar). More elaborate variations can include any combination of spices, herbs, shallots, onions, mustard, etc. It is generally used to dress salad greens and other cold vegetable, meat or fish dishes. They are fast and easy and as you can see, adaptable.
Basic-of-Basic Vinaigrettes (and Friends)
- 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.
Add olive oil in a small, slow stream (a squeeze bottle works great for this) to vinegar mixture, whisking like mad until the mixture emulsifies (comes together). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. (This can also be done in a blender or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.) That’s the basic, but I add some friends….
My standard is the vinaigrette pictured at the beginning of this post. I add some smoked sweet paprika, some roasted garlic granules and a large pinch of salt. I prefer NOT to use fresh garlic…I know, crazy that I would say that since I put garlic in almost everything, but I want the vinaigrette to be about the acid/oil/mustard combination and not all about garlic. Fresh garlic is just to pungent for an everyday vinaigrette. I want to taste the greens, etc.
Mustard Vinaigrette: Increase the Dijon mustard to 2 teaspoons and continue as above. For a Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette, add 2-3 teaspoons honey to the Mustard Vinaigrette and continue as above.
Herbed-Spiced Vinaigrette: Add any combination of 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as finely chopped shallots, onion, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, watercress, basil, oregano, or tarragon to the vinegar and stir well before adding the oil.
Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette: This variation is best done in a blender or using an immersion blender. Combine 3 sun-dried tomatoes, 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese along with the vinegar (I use white wine vinegar), salt, and pepper in a blender container; process until smooth. With the blender running, add the oil in a slow stream until mixture is emulsified. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Ginger-Sesame Vinaigrette: Add 2 tablespoons of finely grated fresh ginger, 1 small clove garlic, put through a press and stir before add the oil. Use vegetable oil instead of olive oil and add 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil; continue as above. You may wish to add 2 tablespoons light miso paste with the ginger.
There are really limitless options, but this will at least get you started. A vinaigrette can also be used hot…that’s right, HOT! It’s a great autumnal vinaigrette and it uses an apple cider reduction…two birds, one vinaigrette!